TRUCKEE, Calif. — By stepping out of the classroom, Tahoe Lake Elementary students are able to observe and make predictions based on scientific concepts of the world around them.
Through this focus on hands-on science learning and targeted instruction, the school was among four local campuses to be honored recently for educational excellence in California.
“This recognition is a testament to the amazing work our staff and students do every day,” said Stephanie Foucek, principal of Tahoe Lake Elementary. “We aim to be a top choice school, and being named a California Distinguished School validates the direction that we are moving in as we continue to strive for excellence.”
Both Tahoe Lake and Glenshire elementary schools received the California Distinguished School designation, while North Tahoe High was identified as a Title I High Achieving School, and Sierra Continuation High was named a Model Continuation High School.
Glenshire and Tahoe Lake were among 424 elementary schools honored as “distinguished,” based on demonstrating educational excellence for all students and progress in narrowing the achievement gap.
“I applaud these strong, thriving schools that are making such impressive strides in preparing their students for continued success,” Tom Torlakson, state superintendent of public instruction, said in a statement. “This award is well-deserved by these school communities for their enduring dedication to high standards, hard work and unwavering support.”
As part of the application process, eligible schools must include a comprehensive description of two signature practices, followed by a county-led site review focused on implementation of those practices. Glenshire highlighted its community relations and visual and performing arts program.
North Tahoe High, meanwhile, was one of 106 schools to receive its academic honor.
To earn this distinction, a school must demonstrate success in significantly closing the achievement gap between high and low-performing students, according to the California Department of Education.
“It is a recognition of the hard work of our students and staff to foster a learning community in which all students achieve at high levels,” said NTHS Principal Joanne Mitchell. “We have taken action in recent years to create more opportunities for academic intervention as well as extension, and this award supports the conclusion that what we are doing is working.”
North Tahoe High boasts several AP course offerings, with more planned additions each year, Mitchell said, as well as an engineering program; a community-supported culinary academy; a ski and independent study academy; and high performing arts, music and athletic programs.
Sierra High was one of 24 Model Continuation High Schools in the state, an honor it has received since 2000.
The honor recognizes continuation schools for programs to help at-risk youth through the use of exemplary instructional strategies, flexible scheduling, and guidance and counseling services, according to the state.
“Every single student here has a story and challenges that they have overcome, but they are here because they recognize the value of education,” Jane Loomis, principal of Sierra High, said in a statement. “I am so proud of all of their successes.”
Sierra High offers students age 16 and older an alternative high school diploma program. Students are able to work out a custom schedule to participate in activities and classes at either North Tahoe or Truckee High, as well as Sierra College to earn credits.
In addition, the school offers the Sierra Teen Education and Parenting Program for pregnant and parenting teens.
“I am thrilled by these recognitions,” said Tahoe Truckee Unified School District Superintendent Rob Leri. “Our staff and students have been doing tremendous work, and these awards are a validation of the great things happening and collaboration in all of our schools.”